Worcester Housing Authority Identifies $1.6M in Fraud
The Worcester Housing Authority (WHA) in Massachusetts has identified nearly $1.6 million in fraud over the past five years—from residents reporting false income, landlords lying about tenant occupancy, and people living in housing without the public housing agency's knowledge, for example.
The fraud has been identified in public housing, leased housing (Section 8), and by the landlords of Section 8 housing, a WHA report states. The amount of fraud discovered is significant, WHA Executive Director Raymond V. Mariano said. WHA receives roughly $50 million a year in taxpayer support from state and federal sources. About 10,000 people live in the city's public housing and another 12,000 in leased housing.
From 2008 to 2012, WHA staff and investigators reviewed 2,000 suspected cases of fraud. A total of $664,775 was recovered, along with agreements for another $428,162 to be paid back. Nine cases were taken to court, where a total of $62,769 was ordered to be repaid, according to the report.
The WHA has approximately 3,000 public housing apartments spread across 24 parts of the city, along with 3,000 vouchers for leased housing in other units. There are roughly 2,000 leased housing units that are part of the Section 8 federal public housing program.
Examples of the types of fraud found over the past five years include:
• A woman receiving Section 8 help who didn’t report her husband was living with her, or his income, resulting in more in $30,000 in fraudulently obtained assistance. The courts ordered the recipient to pay a total of $5,000, and the woman no longer receives Section 8 benefits.
• A landlord said a veteran was living in his Section 8 housing, but the veteran had decided not to move there. The landlord never reported it and started receiving monthly WHA money. The matter has been referred to the Legal Department and the landlord was removed from the program.
• A resident living in one of the elderly communities had a BMW. WHA investigated and found the resident didn’t report his true income. The resident was ordered to pay back $8,700 to the WHA.
Not a subscriber? Click here for a free trial issue!